This is a tasty bulky soup full of goodness – just the thing for lunch or a light evening meal with a loaf of crusty bread. I like the soup chunky, and purée about half of it, leaving the rest in chunks – the perfect texture.
4 medium leeks 50g (1¾ oz) butter 2 sticks celery, sliced 2 medium carrots, sliced 4 medium potatoes (about 700 / 1½ lb), peeled and thinly sliced 250g (8 oz) Swiss brown mushrooms (brown buttons), quartered 250g (8 oz) large portabello mushrooms (choose big thick caps), thickly sliced 2 fresh bay leaves 1¾ tsp salt 1.5 litres (about 3 pts) water Chopped parsley or snipped chives for garnishing Crème fraîche
1 Use a large knife to cut off the tops of the leeks, then shave off any tough parts and remove any coarse outer leaves. Trim off the roots, cut each leek in two lengthways, then rinse thoroughly under running water. Slice thinly.
2 Melt the butter in a large saucepan, then add the leeks, celery and carrot. Toss them in the butter over heat for 3-5 minutes, then lay the potatoes on top. Don’t stir the potatoes through the leeks, because if they sit on the bottom of the pot they can catch. Cover the pan and cook on a very gentle heat for 20 minutes.
3 Add both types of mushrooms and the bay leaves, stir through the salt and add the water. Bring the soup just to boiling point, stirring often, then immediately turn the heat to low. Partially cover with a lid and cook very gently for 20 minutes, or until the vegetables are tender.
4 Remove the bay leaves and purée the soup in batches, in a food processor or blender, or use a stick blender to partially blend the soup, leaving it chunky. Return soup to the cleaned pan.
Read the Recipe Notes below the photographs for more information.
Choose fresh sweet-tasting leeks, not withered ones which are stringy and strong to eat. Mid-season potatoes are perfect for this; you don’t want them to dissolve totally in the soup, but nor do you want very firm slices that won’t break up because some of the potatoes’ starch is needed to thicken the soup. Choose big brown meaty mushrooms, rather than pale button ones, because they have more flavour and colour. While a mix of small and large mushrooms is good, large mushrooms have more flavour than closed button ones so be sure to include plenty of them.
Salt is essential. Cut it back and the soup will taste like dishwater!
Like most soups, this can be made ahead and reheated, and it freezes well. And it is quite forgiving. I made this during Covid-19 Lockdown and only had 2 leeks, but plenty of big mushrooms, and no celery, but it turned out just fine.
Here’s why you should make the soup …
Leeks are an antioxidant and are good for the blood, containing plenty of vitamin A, some B group vitamins, and iron, potassium, calcium and fibre. Mix them in a pot with celery, carrots, potatoes and mushrooms, and you’ve got a life-giving brew.
Ever wondered why celery often tastes bitter? More sprays are used on celery than on many other vegetables. With celery, you eat the lot, the bits that got sprayed, because there’s no skin to peel off as there is on, say, pumpkin. Therefore, wash celery extremely well, scrubbing it gently with a vegetable brush. The answer really, of course, is to buy organic. Celery’s biggest claim to fame is its fibre content, but it also has plenty of potassium and calcium.